Bridging the gap between scholarly research and popular forms of communication

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paper


There’s a long running quarrel between scholarly and popular knowledge. Part of this has been fostered by the fact that scholarly knowledge is difficult to access because of the costs involved in buying a subscription or online access to articles. You may or may not have heard of the name Aaron Hillel Swartz. He tried to make knowledge accessible to everyone by hacking into journal sites that blocked people from obtaining knowledge. He wanted to do away with the huge monetary expense of buying knowledge through one’s credit card. His activity was about fostering a more equal society where it was not only the wealthy who had access to scholarly research—but everyone. His philosophy was about making knowledge a democratic right.Swartz died in 2013 at the young age of 27. He committed suicide. His death was likely prompted by the fact that he was facing serious charges concerning ‘computer’ crimes. It is a sad state of affairs that a young man was pushed to suicide because he wanted to make knowledge accessible to everyone.The fact that university academics and students are the ones who have privileged access to scholarly articles means that a great portion of the population are prevented from accessing solid, refereed tested knowledge.Such inequality is socially disastrous. I believe that research published in scholarly referred journals should be accessible to everyone but this is of course not the case. A way of addressing such inequality, it is a good idea for academics to engage with the wider public by participating on social media information sites that don’t have pay walls.We are living in an unprecedented era online communication where it is possible to communicate one’s knowledge to global audiences. In my Humanities research areas there are many online outlets available in communicating one’s knowledge.One of those is The Conversation but it odes not stop there as many articles form this site are republished in the Huffington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and other news outlets. This certainly happened to me. The republishing of article has more often than not also led to radio interviews where I’ve been able to engage further.I think that in contributing to better-informed society, that it is important that more academics participate on social networks that disperse their knowledge and expertise.This is especially important in an era where online communications has also led to opinion-based blogs that are designed to mislead and misinform. There should always be a bigger picture to our research and it should include service to the community. There is an ethical dimension to our work and it involves taking part in a social contract that has become an online social network. One can think of social media as a loud speaker in which to represent one’s research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Communication
Subtitle of host publicationExpert Guest Panel
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017
EventResearch Communication: Expert Guest Panel - Charles Sturt University, Australia
Duration: 30 Nov 201730 Nov 2017


ConferenceResearch Communication: Expert Guest Panel
Abbreviated titleResearch Communication in the Digital Age


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